Gay rights trial highlights growing church influence

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(4 May 2012) St Petersburg – 4 May 2012
1. Nikolai Alexeyev, convicted of “spreading homosexual propaganda,” with journalists in the hall of court
2. Alexeyev in the hall of court
3. Sign reading (Russian) “Justice of the Peace”
4. Alexeyev and Yuri Gavrikov, head of Equality (a gay rights group), entering the court room
5. Sign reading (Russian) “Silence. Court in session”
6. Mid of policeman standing in front of court room
7. SOUNDBITE (Russian) Yuri Gavrikov, head of Equality (a gay rights group):
“Part of the United Russia Party, and other parties who support the opposition, are pushing forward this legislation intensively at regional level. They often do this in violation of procedural rights. I think that this legislation will be enacted on the federal level.”
8. Dmitri Dubrovsky, Director of Human Rights Programme, Smolny College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, walking on the street
9. SOUNDBITE: (Russian) Dmitri Dubrovsky, Director of Human Rights Programme, Smolny College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:
“This legislation is a ban on any kind of public discussion of the defence of LGTB (Lesbian, gay, transexual and bisexual) rights in Russia. And this is not only about the LGBT communities; as in the past it was said ””””Today they came for them, tomorrow they will come for you””””. The human rights activists defend all people, not only some, in defence of the right to publicity, the right to gather, and the right to be the other.”
10. Wide of the entrance to the Saint Petersburg Theological Seminary
11. SOUNDBITE (Russian) Dmitri Ponomarev, clerk at St Petersburg Cathedral:
“There is a right not to see that (meaning manifestation of gay identity). If someone has the desire, then do that at home. Why not? Do that when there is no one watching. That is your right. As we say, it is a sin. You can pray for forgiveness of one””””s sins.”
12. Mid of reporter recording an interview in front of court building
13. Wide of reporters in front of the court building
FILE: Moscow – 28 May 2011
14. Wide of detention of gay activist on Manezhnaya Square
15. Mid of detention of gay activist on Manezhnaya Square
16. Wide of Interior Ministry troops cordon
A prominent Russian gay rights activist was convicted on Friday of spreading “homosexual propaganda” among minors in the first such ruling in Russia””””s modern history.
Nikolai Alexeyev told the Associated Press that a city court in St. Petersburg had fined him 5,000 roubles (170 US dollars).
The law was controversially introduced by lawmakers in Russia””””s second largest city in February. He said he would appeal the decision.
Laws prohibiting the spreading of “homosexual propaganda” have been in place in St. Petersburg since 30 March.
Gay rights activists say the legislation could be enacted on the federal level and could then be used to ban public demonstrations.
Also in March, the Russian parliament submitted a bill calling for fines of up to 500,000 roubles (17,000 US dollars) for the same offence.
Yuri Gavrikov, head of gay rights group Equality is worried that will happen.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993, but anti-gay sentiment remains strong.
Alexeyev and other activists have petitioned Moscow authorities for permission to stage a gay pride parade, but were denied after the former mayor Yuri Luzhkov described gay parades as “satanic”.

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